Jan Boehmermann Erdogan Poem Case: Charges Dropped For Comic


Jan Boehmermann‘s poem about President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will not land him behind bars. Boehmermann, a German satirist and the host of Neo Magazin Royale, caused an international incident in early 2016 by reading a very controversial poem entitled “Schmähkritik” (“abusive criticism”) on the ZDF.

The comedy writer had a lot to say about the Turkish president. He claimed that Erdogan beat girls and had intercourse with animals such as goats, and suppresses minorities. The producer also stated that the Turkish president abused Kurds, hit Christians and was a fan of child pornography.

The ZDF channel removed the episode containing the poem from its programs and apologized. Many politicians including Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and Chancellor Angela Merkel slammed the poem.

The Turkish government rapidly issued a statement demanding the criminal prosecution of Mr. Boehmermann. According to German law, the government “has to approve the demand for criminal prosecution by the foreign government.”

This week, German prosecutors announced that they are dropping their investigation into the matter. The prosecutors said they do not have enough evidence to charge the comedian. The prosecutors said:

“criminal actions could not be proven with the necessary certainty. It is questionable that the comedian’s comments had constituted slander as he was speaking in a satirical format. There is no evidence the accused was making a serious attack on the personal or social reputation of the Turkish president.”

Boehmermann slammed Merkel by saying:

“She had served me for tea by placing him under investigation. The chancellor must not wobble when it’s a matter of freedom of opinion. But instead, she filleted me, served me for tea to a highly strung despot and made me into a German Ai Weiwei (a Chinese dissident artist).”

Polls showed that 48 percent of Germans found the poem appropriate, while 29 percent saw it as going too far. CEO of publishing house Axel Springer SE, Mathias Döpfner, came out in support of Boehmermann, and wrote on Twitter:

“Europe first lost its soul (agreement with Turkey on refugees), now it is losing its humour. Hands off @janboehm!”

More than 100,000 people signed a petition on Change.org asking the government to leave Boehmermann and his sense of humor alone.